“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss . . .”
— James 4:3
What do the following bestseller titles communicate to you about our society: The Virtue of Selfishness and Looking Out for Number One? What does it mean to you that we buy books like these in droves?
Tragically, selfishness characterizes our age. Our society has hurled God from the throne and crowned self as monarch. Then we’ve turned around and treated God as the conduit to all our desires. We “conjure up” God as if He were a genie in a bottle, commanding Him to manipulate the world to our liking.
But we shouldn’t treat God as a means to whatever we want. He isn’t a means to our own ends; He Himself is the end we should seek. If we think otherwise, we should ask the Lord to change our selfish hearts.
Selfishness is at the root of many an unanswered prayer. When we “ask amiss,” we ask for fulfillment of our selfish desires, not for the furtherance of God’s kingdom. But Christ showed us, through the Lord’s Prayer (found in Matthew 6), that we must seek God’s kingdom first, not our own. The first petition in the Lord’s Prayer is “Hallowed be thy name.” We should make it our priority to praise and honor God when we pray. The second petition reads, “Thy kingdom come.” We should diligently beseech Jesus Christ to bring His kingdom into this world and into our lives. The third petition is “Thy will be done.” We need to lay our will at Jesus’ feet and ask Him to fulfill His purposes through our lives.
Today pray, “Lord, what would you have me do this day?” Then make yourself available to do His will and further His kingdom in whatever way He desires. Pray every day, focusing your petitions not on yourself but on your King.
“Seven days without prayer makes one weak.”
Allen E. Bartlett